When trying to balance senior care with the needs of your growing children, sometimes things fall through the cracks. The world tells us that we can have it all, and we fall for it. We expect our career, our children, our parents' senior care needs, our spouse, our hobbies, and everything else to magically mesh together. Unfortunately, in our one size fits all world, there are times when one size fits none.
What do you do when you can't handle it? If we spread ourselves too thin, the we leave gaps in the overage. A child doesn't get picked up from school, a doctor's appointment is missed. What do you do when you're late for work yet again and remember that you forgot some important papers on the table at home? They're sitting right next to the homework that didn't make it to school and the birthday present that should have been wrapped last night.
There are times when your children have to come first, and others when senior care is more important. It can be difficult to make a decision. Do you go to the soccer game and leave Mom with a sitter? Will it be too hard on her if you bring her along, or is it still safe for her to be home alone? Should you just stay home and focus on your senior care obligations and find your little one a ride with a friend?
Unfortunately, we can't be in two places at once, and sometimes we have to make a choice. Everyone's needs are important, but at times one person has a more urgent problem. The kids can wait ten minutes for dinner when Grandpa needs help in the bathroom. Grandma wants you to read to her, but it can wait until the homework is done.
How do you choose what to do first? Look at each situation and decide what's most important at that moment.
1) Child and senior care are equally important. Everyone's needs and wants should be respected.
2) Safety always wins.
3) Bathroom needs are usually most urgent. Food, medicine, and cleanliness are close behind.
4) Age often determines urgency. The very young and very old have limited abilities to wait. Older kids can usually understand that Grandma's needs must come first.
5) Don't forget emotional needs.
Perhaps the most important thing is to talk about it. Make sure that the kids know you haven't forgotten them, and that you'll be there as soon as you handle the senior care concern. Tell your mother that you'll find her television show as soon as the kids are done with dinner or you'll help her with her pajamas when homework is done.
It's important to remember emotional needs as well. At times, they can be just as urgent as physical needs. Children need to know that they're important, and they often feel pushed aside when senior care issues arise. Make sure to spend time with them one-on-one and talk about what's going on in their lives. When something is important to them, a school project or a sports game or piano recital, be there. Find someone else to step in and help out with senior care and the other children so you can meet that need.
Life isn't easy when you have both children and parents to care for. It's a balancing act, and we often feel that we're about to fall. Patience and communication are the keys to keeping your family running as smoothly as possible.
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